In retrospect, two first-round draft picks seems like a high price to pay for Jay Cutler (though the Bears did mitigate that cost by getting Johnny Knox with the fifth-round pick that was part of the deal). The Houston Texans only spent two second-round picks on Matt Schaub -- and he's been in the top 10 in passer rating the past three seasons.
But Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was steadfast in his belief that even though Cutler is mired in the middle of the pack among NFL quarterbacks since joining the Bears, he's still the quarterback he traded for in 2008.
''I would do it all over again,'' Angelo said in a meeting with Bears reporters prior to Monday night's 24-13 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. ''You can't play in this league without one. You don't take a guy that was tried-and-tested, 25 years old, [coming off] a Pro Bowl, tough market to play in, he understood the NFL, I would do it all over again.
''You cannot play in this league without a quarterback, and then where do you find them? When you make a decision, you want to base it on soundness. The decision was sound. Jay's got to continue to improve, but everything we need in a quarterback Jay has. It's about him coming together. It's not about one guy; he needs help.''
So why hasn't Cutler become the difference-maker many Bears fans thought the Bears were getting?
''We've had some protection issues, that balance we talked about. You guys have documented all the things that we're not able to do. Those things you bring up are good points, we need to do them. I've been on teams where we didn't have the parts to do those things. The good news is we do have the parts to do these things, now it's just a matter of us continuing to grow and staying confident.
''The thing you get concerned about, the longer you go, then it's harder for them to stay with that confidence level that you need to have each and every week. That's a great dynamic when you watch Sunday and you see teams with that intangible.''
Angelo also maintained his faith in the Bears' struggling defense, which came into Monday night's game ranked 31st in the NFL in yards allowed -- and then gave up a 73-yard touchdown pass and an 88-yard touchdown run against the Lions.
''I'm more surprised [than disappointed],'' Jerry said. ''I feel good that we're going to play good defense. We're not used to seeing what we saw. They're very talented ... made some mistakes that are correctable. We've got to play better. That's it. We just gotta play better. I'm going to treat that as an aberration until [proven] otherwise.''
It seemed like it was proven otherwise later Monday night, when the Lions used Matthew Stafford's 73-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best's 88-yard touchdown run to compile 395 total yards on just 47 plays (8.4 yards per play) against the Bears once-vaunted defense.
But as Angelo said earlier in the evening, it's up to the offense to take the pressure off the defense. Football has developed such an emphasis on offense in recent years that Angelo said there are two or three times more great athletes on offense than on defense in college. And that filters up to the NFL.
''It's hard to play defense in this league. Very hard,'' Angelo said. ''I've been saying this the last few years, that old adage doesn't apply anymore. Defenses keep you in games, offenses have to win games for you. You've got to help the defense. It's hard now given all that's been going on for the last 10 years with these rules [changes that favor the offense] and these kids are coming out much better, particularly at the skill positions based on what the colleges are doing. They're much more ready to come in and play and play well.
Some other issues Angelo discussed with the writers Monday night:
Did you think the offense would be further along?
''I thought we'd be more consistent,'' Angelo said. ''It's the inconsistencies that bother you. That's what makes if frustrating for anybody -- myself, coaches ... you have to become consistent. And consistent in a positive way. Meaning you're able to establish an identity and then be able to go into each game nd do those things. And then everything else spawns from that. That part of it, we haven't done that. We've shown we can do both. But we have to show it on a consistent basis.''
Do you still feel good about the wide receivers?
Yeah. I would have felt better if we would have been able to keep Earl [Bennett] in the mix. Earl established himself with Jay. He does the dirty work, particularly getting those third-down plays. That was a real role for Earl. That was critical for Jay. A lot of the things that have hurt us are these dropped passes and a good handful of them have come on third downs. You stop one drive that might have led to a pretty good drive. They all go hand-in-hand.
''I like our receivers. Roy Williams has got to start stepping it up. I think we're going to see the best of him as well. I feel like he's finally got his feet on the ground with us. So maybe it came a little slower than what we like. And then the injury with Earl. To me those were reasons.''
Is Bennett close to coming back?
''I don't know that he's close, probably be a few more weeks. He didn't break anything, that's the good news. It's going to take, it's an injury that every player's body handles differently, so we're just going to have to be patient and wait and see.''